5 Creative Ways to Set an Intention for the New Year

new year's intentions

new year's intentions

Many people shiver negatively at the idea of creating New Year’s Resolutions. There is something too hard, too rigid, too filled with expectation about that age-old practice. And yet, beginning the new year with an eye towards what you want to see develop can be immensely powerful. Instead of holding yourself to a resolution, consider opening yourself up to the rich possibility of setting an intention for the new year.

What Is a New Year’s Intention?

Imagine what you want for your life one year from today. This can be big or small, tangible or abstract. Perhaps you want more spaciousness or more activity. Maybe you want to be gentler with yourselves or others. Maybe you want an art studio, deeper work in therapy, to start a new business venture. Whatever it is, imagine it. Setting an intention is your way of creating a North Star to remind you how to get there.

Intentions Vs. Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions can make you feel boxed in. You commit to them and then you feel stuck. In contrast, New Year’s intentions are strong but also soft. They remind you that this is the way that you plan to go this year. You can return to them when you need guidance about what you might do next. However, they also make space for the fact that life is complicated, messy, and unfolds in ways that we simply cannot predict. An intention says, “it’s okay if I go off course for a little bit, as long as I’m pointed loosely in the direction I want to go.”

5 Creative Ways to Set a New Year’s Intention

There are many different ways to set a New Year’s intention. None are the “right” way. Find what is right for you. Here are five creative ideas that might get you started:

1. A Word For The Year

This has become a very popular way to set an intention in recent years. First, take the time to dream big about your intentions for the new year. Journal, have conversations, daydream. When you’ve come up with your intention, choose a single work that sums up what you’re aiming for. This word can be very abstract or very concrete.

Choosing a Word of the Year

Examples of “word of the year” choices include:

new year's intentions

The original list of words comes from Fun Happy Home. They have a printable of this as well.

How to Work with a Word of the Year

Once you’ve chosen your word, there are many ways to bring yourself back to it throughout the year. Examples include:

  • Buy a necklace or bracelet with the word on it as a touchstone.
  • Repeat the word as a mantra each morning when you wake up.
  • Look for books, movies, quotes, and music that incorporate the word to inspire you throughout the year.
  • Create art that uses the word. Hang it where you can see it every day.

2. Vision Board

The vision board is another very popular example of how to set an intention at the start of each new year. Grab yourself a big piece of poster board and a handful of beautiful magazines. You might also want to add other elements such as fabric, stickers, glitter, hand-drawn designs, etc.

vision board

Photo by June Liu on Unsplash

Give yourself time and space to piece together a collage of what you want to see happen in the new year. Some of your ideas might be very clear. For example, if you want to move more this year, then you might add photos of dance and yoga. However, allow yourself to notice which images and words attract your attention even if you aren’t sure why. Include them. You may uncover their purpose throughout the year.

3. Create a 2022 Playlist

Music touches are brains in unique ways. Therefore, we can harness the power of the music is helping us set and attend to our intentions. Once you know what your 2022 intention is, take the time to build yourself a playlist devoted to that intention. You might find music that directly speaks to your intention. However, you might also simply look for music that evokes the mood that you’re aiming for around your intention for 2022. Build a solid playlist, listen to it often, and add to it throughout the year.

Are you on Spotify? So are we!

4. Engage In a Somatic Practice

Use your body to express and realize your 2022 intention. You might start by checking out this Somatic Gratitude Practice. In this example, the intention is gratitude. However, you can modify this as you see fit to set your own New Year’s intention, whatever that might be.

5. Create a Calendar of Intentions

Everyone is different. Some people work best with a loose frame for their intentions. However, others need more structure. If you’re the kind of person who loves lists and calendars, then embrace that part of yourself. Use it to your advantage. Invest in a pretty calendar or two, the kind with lots of different layouts and room for notes. (Teacher’s planners are actually a really flexible option.)

calendar of goals

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Brainstorm a list of ways that you can realize your intention in the new year. For example, let’s say that you intention is to practice more embodiment. Your list might include, “go for daily walks,” “take a dance class,” and “get monthly massages.” Now, put those things on the calendar for all of 2022. Sure, you might end up changing and adjusting, but getting them down on that calendar will help you stick to your intention.

What intention do you wish to set for 2022? Share with us! Setting and meeting your intentions is not something that you need to do alone. Check out our Therapist Directory if you are seeking a therapist who can assist you in setting goals and working through what arises as you work to achieve them.

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